While the NHL Director of Officiating Terry Gregson contends theres been no change to the way officials are enforcing goaltender interference infractions this season, the Bruins have noticed a high level of calls in their first two weeks worth of games.
There were a pair of important and controversial goalie interference calls that took place in Saturdays 1-0 Bruins win over the Leafs, but most people were talking about the goaltender interference call on Ottawa from Sunday nights game between the Senators and Canadiens.
The call in the MontrealOttawa game came as video replays showed that Carey Price was outside his crease, and wiped out a potential game-tying goal for Andre Benoit in the third period.
Likewise a Cody Franson game-tying score for the Maple Leafs was wiped out in the first period when Tuukka Rask was bumped outside of the crease by Nazem Kadri, and that caused a healthy amount of uproar in Canada.
There have been four goaltender interference calls for two-minute minor penalties in Bostons first eight games, and at least three goals have been wiped out for incidental contact including two scores Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.
Perhaps Tuukka Rask is the wrong person to ask about it on the Bruins when looking for an impartial observer, but the Bruins goaltender doesnt seem to mind being protected very much.
I havent seen that many. I saw a couple in our games, but I dont know if theyre keeping a closer eye on them or not, said Rask, who is 5-1-1 with a 2.10 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Calls have been made during play. Sometimes theyre questionable and sometimes theyre not. I know I got called out for saying I was flopping around.
I know its a difficult challenge for referees because some goalies like to challenge the shot and come out of the crease a little bit. Then they get bumped and its tough to not make that call. Its a fine line. Im sure the refs have been told to keep an eye on those because its always a close call.
The Bruins havent been hosed, to use some Canadian parlance, by the goaltending interference calls, but one of the plays from Saturday nights win in Toronto was the same sequence that led to Brad Marchands injury. Toronto goalie James Reimer kicked out his leg pad as Marchand crashed the net, and Marchand tripped over the pad into the end boards.
Tyler Seguin eventually scored what appeared to be an insurance goal after a puck deflected off his body into the net during an ensuing scramble seconds later, but it was waved off because of the incidental contact earlier in the play with Marchand. Claude Julien said theres been a bigger pattern of more penalties being called this season across the NHL.
Some of increased penalty calls might have to do with players not in optimal game condition cheating more in the first few weeks of the season, and referees that are paying closer attention to a number of different things.
But Julien has definitely observed the orange safety cones practically installed just outside the goalie crease area.
We all know that there are a lot of penalties being called given the adjustments to the rules and youre seeing it all over. You look at the penalty killing column in league stats and almost every team is in the same area with X amount of penalties. So its consistent throughout the league, said Julien. Just look at our game in Toronto. To be bluntly honest it was questionable on Tuukka and it was extremely questionable on Brad Marchand. Reimer sticks his pad out and trips Marchand outside of the crease and then we scored.
Theyre very sensitive to that. Its not just us. Its all around the league. Maybe theyre sending a message to everyone to stay away from the goaltenders and then theyll soften up a bit once we start being a little better about it.
If teams continue to get whistled for goaltender interference on plays when the keeper is clearly outside the crease, then expect that march to the penalty box to continue for the rest of the shortened NHL campaign.